Saturday, June 16, 2007


Actually, this post is mainly about a day out in London and Anthony Gormley. But its all down to friendship really.

It was a wonderful day primarily because it was spent with Betty, an old longstanding friend who is a source of strength and comfort partly - always - because of who she is, but also at the moment especially because her mother very recently died too. So, we particularly have a lot to share just now.

We arrived at London Bridge with few plans, and walked along the South Bank.

Past - or rather, through - a riot of street art

(more pics on flickr and to come).

And then, just because it was there, and we were there, we stopped off for the Anthony Gormley exhibition at the Hayward gallery.

A fabulous, really excellent exhibition - a mix of sculpture, installation, prints, drawings, photography.... and some toast.

To quote the tour guide:
"Taking the body as its point of departure, the exhibition is an invitation to embark on a journey through different kinds of space. It explores the ways in which we orient ourselves spatially, how we react when disoriented; how we relate to architecture and the built environment. It also probes into the imaginative and emotional space of our inner beings."

and twas true!

The title piece "Blind Light" is a very large (small room-sized) glass box full of cloud / water vapour, and brightly lit. Theres water underfoot and visibility down to only about an arms length. It was sort of like sensory deprivation, or rather being at the very top of a mountain in low cloud - it was a fabulous feeling (though to judge from the expressions of some people leaving the box, not everyone thought so). I found myself focussing in a different way on myself, my movement - on the voices of the people around me who i couldn't see. Encountering other people inside became quite an adventure - and there were interesting interreactions between those inside, and outside the box. Really disorienting, I usually have a good sense of direction but completely lost any sense of where I was - which i found quite liberating.

This is a scan of a postcard, no photos allowed of course.

and more pics here.

The responses and movements of people around the exhibition was a key part of the experience - the way we occupy spaces. There were lots of instances of people watching each other in, around, under, through the installations - sometimes eyeball to eyeball through little holes in walls.

Another high profile piece of the exhibition was "Event Horizon" - many londoners know about this because it consists of 31 figures - life-sized casts of the artist - placed on the tops of buildings across 1.5km of London, all facing the gallery. One of the best things about this one, of course, was that - being outside - we could take pictures.

And of course, part of the experience was seeing other people Gormley-spotting - pointing, taking pictures...

What a simple and brilliant idea - it is so effective. Looking across London and spotting another figure - and another, and another even further off - changed my perception of the landscape - and particularly the horizons - in ways which i find it hard to articulate. It gave a sense of being looked at - I think it made the city seem smaller, in a way - though some of the furthest figures were so tiny - but also, gave a sense of expanding horizons.

There are 3 Gormleys in the next picture (click to enlarge)

and i quite liked this picture of reflections and activities in an office across the road, including a reflected Gormley.

The exhibition was followed by lunch, a film and beer, but i've gone on long enough already.

A great day, thankyou Betty and looking forward to the next one.

what would we do without friends?


martin said...

What a wonderful day!. The Gormleys are wonderful. The "bits" are modeled on the artist's own. I think he was looking through rose tinted specs. Jealous moi ?.

Akelamalu said...

I'd love to see the 'Blind Light' exhibition. I found the 'Gormleys' on top of the buildings a bit disturbing but then I don't like heights.
Thanks for sharing these great pictures, it sounds like you had a great day out.

tut-tut said...

You write extremely well about art, something that's so hard to do. I would have loved the sensory installation. A few months ago I went to a film installation of Hiraki Sawa, very dreamlike. It was the first time I saw people sit down and actually watch all the way through something like this: all ages, too.

Very nice day, indeed. I spotted only two statues. I'll have another look.

Queenie said...

Great photos, loved the can-can dancer's.
I saw the 'Gormleys' on T.V and thought what a great way to share art.
So nice to hear that you had a lovely day out with your friend, they are speical people in our life.
My friend has just sent me a card (she lives quite far away, so I don't see her as often as I'd like) Its say's,if you find yourself in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out.
A BEST friend will be in the cell next to you saying "damm, that was fun", how true is that?????

Gary said...

I know nothing of the Gromleys but they are fascinating! Very excellent how your shots are progressivly pulling back and then only show it in a relection. A series of photos worthy of the title 'art' itself. Well done.
So happy that you took time to enjoy a day with an old, I mean longstanding friend.

Shelly Lowenkopf said...

And thank you for taking us along on your walk. (Mind, don't brush up against the Banksy!)

lettuce said...

hahaha martin. and what about that coffee you promised me?

I did Ake - and i found them quite benign, not disturbing - but yes, i guess fear of heights wouldn't enhance the experience!

T-T thanks. its all so subjective, isn't it? i like best the reviews/writing which reflect that. Some critics hated this show though.

haha Queenie, thats excellent! too right.

Gary I honestly hadn't thought about the order of my pics. How nice when someone identifies something you've done as cleverer than it really was! Or maybe its you that is cleverer :o)
(is cleverer a word?)

My pleasure Shelly.

martin said...

I will mail you.....

Trac said...

Oooh did someone mention coffee?

Fab pics as ever Lettuce and yes...

We get by with a little help from our friends!

la bellina mammina said...


The exhibition is gorgeous!
And the graffiti is nice too actually.

Dizzy said...

I am so glad you had a wonderful day with Betty.

Interesting write up of Antony Gormley. I did not know of him. I spotted all the Antonys though.

Loved the street art, the can-can dancers were quite small compared to all the other shapes and colours. Clever eh!

Thanks Letty :+)

Steve said...

I love the figures on the rooftops. City skylines often look so abstract, and we lose sight of all the people occupying all those buildings. Those figures are a nice reminder (though for some reason they also seem a little lonely and desperate).

The sensory box sounds fascinating. I love the soft glow and shadowy figures of people moving around inside.

Hope this show comes to NYC!

Reya Mellicker said...

What a delightful day! I'm so glad Steve saw the street art pics - they're sumptuous!!

Wow - Gormley!! Fantastic! I love London - so many fantastic things going on all the time. Can't wait to go look at art with you, then drink beer and whatever.

Lettuce I'm so glad you have a friend who is sharing the experience of loss. When my mother died, two of my closest friends also lost their mothers - a terrible coincidence of loss. We were able to help each other so much, without ever really having to talk about it. We all just knew. Much love to you!

Pod said...

gormley is great. would love to experience the blind light, and event horizon is very dr who/torchwood no? look out! do you like torchwood? saw the first one last night. sounds like a great day, and glad you liked half nelson, and ryan ;0p
one day we shall take a stroll in old londinium.....

Pod said...

hope y'alreet pet?

Lynne said...

Hi Lettuce,
Pod and Reya urged me to visit you, so here I am! I have some back reading to do but
I loved the dog vid! Brilliant!

I am so sorry about the loss of your mum. Now I know who the Vicky was in pod's tribute. She looks to have been a lovely person. Your tribute to her was wonderful. And the poem, well ... wow

The Gormley pics are great and I think I would like getting a bit lost in a cloud. It must be a strange feeling and very disorienting. I particulary like the third statue photo with all the different shades of grey. It wouldn't have looked the same had the sky been blue.

We all cherish the strength and comfort of a good friend. Glad you enjoyed your day.

I shall be back!

james said...

very nice pics. pics pics. like the odd figure on the roof corner and really like that can can legs legs.
to be honest, i'm kinda slow at all of this...where is your flickr...ican't find it, nor your greenwich photo of the spire.
i'm writing my dissertation on churches, you'd be proud, or not. i don't really know.
going to stonehenge tomorrow to camp the night there. it'll be fun. i'm bringing a sheet so i can blend in with druids. very excited. wondering if they'll let me hold the knife.

ramblingwoman said...

yes, what a lovely day. Nothing like a walk along the South Bank is there? Especially good if it's with old (sorry, longstanding) and wonderful friends.

That Gormley does indeed look wonderful.

Speak soon,

Ex-Shammickite said...

Here in Canada, I have seen the Gormley statues on TV, and I'd love to see the actual water vapour room installation, but I suppose I'll have to just enjoy it all through your blog..... great pics.

call me betty said...

Lovely, lovely pics.
And it was indeed a super day :-)

Cameras at the ready for tomorrow......

lettuce said...

we do Trac. and with the odd brunch.

thanks bella, glad you like it.

Steve i thought them a reminder of that too, though minus the desperation and loneliness... tho i see what you mean.

Reya i've experienced more of that terrible coincidence of loss lately, it is strangely, and strangely moving.

does sound pretty sci fi Pod. Torchwood... hmmmm, mixed feelings about it actually. Cpt. Jack is GREAT - tho' better in Dr. Who i thought.... what did you think of it?

hello lynne, any friend of pod and reya's.... nice to see you here, and thanks for your sweet comments. I will pop over chez vous later to return the visit. :o)

James, careful with that knife (Eugene...). I'll leave a flickr link on your blog (its not a great pic of the finished Greenwich spire, I'll try and get a better one for you)

RW yes! and she's even more longstanding than me!! looking forward to seeing you soon soon xxx

Shammie, lets hope he takes himself on the road!

Twas, Betty. yes, cameras at the ready always.

Sorry everyone i've been a bit absent from blogland... will be catching up, might even get around to a new post....